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Pac Health Dialog. 2002 Mar;9(1):29-33.

Attitudes of Pacific parents to circumcision of boys.

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Dept of Paediatric Surgery, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand.



Circumcision for cultural reasons is routine in Pacific Island countries. In New Zealand routine circumcision for which there is no medical indication is uncommon and no longer publicly funded within the public hospital system. This has caused difficulties for the Pacific people of New Zealand.


This study documents the differences in the attitudes of Pacific parents and their male children to cultural circumcision, and assesses the strength of their beliefs.


Pacific boys between the ages of 8-18 and their parents resident in Christchurch were given a questionnaire to complete and then were interviewed. The participants were obtained mainly through church organisations and after broadcast on Pacifica radio.


One hundred and sixteen of the 123 participants felt that they had strong ties to the Pacific community. The majority (89%) of the Pacific people felt that circumcision should be performed mainly for reasons of culture and hygiene. Only a small number were aware of the possible complications that might occur with circumcision. The average age that most Pacific people were circumcised and would want their children to be circumcised is between 6 and 10 years of age. Boys were less sure than their fathers that they would get their own sons circumcised.


This study has shown that circumcision is expected and surprisingly well accepted by the boys of Pacific families despite the discomfort they know the procedure causes. There is a strong cultural demand from parents for circumcision. Guidance from church leaders or sexual health lessons at schools or elsewhere may alter the cultural importance of circumcision for Pacific Island people. However, the preference for circumcision is so well entrenched into their cultural beliefs and may take years to influence.

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